Arlington, VA, Oct. 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Council on Foundations today announced that Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, will receive the Distinguished Service Award at its upcoming Awards Ceremony in Washington, DC. The Award is philanthropy’s highest honor and celebrates a visionary leader who embodies the inspirational qualities that define excellence in philanthropy—commitment, courage, entrepreneurship, and impact.

Heintz, one of the sector’s premier leaders on democratic institutions and civil society development, will deliver an address on the state of philanthropy in civil society as part of the November 28 ceremony at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

“Stephen Heintz’ deep commitment to the principles of philanthropy has led to him being one of the most respected leaders in the field in the United States and globally,” said Gene Cochrane, interim president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “Under his leadership, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has been both a trusted grantmaker and convener. He has led discussions on some of the more challenging issues of our time, including climate change, U.S.-Iran relations, the European integration of the Balkans, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as concerns right here in the United States surrounding the erosion of democracy. The Council staff is extremely pleased that he will share his views on the state of the sector and the state of our nation in what will likely be a thoughtful and provocative call to the field.”

Since 2001, Heintz has served as president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a New York-based family foundation that advances social change for a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. He began his professional life in public service in the state of Connecticut and has devoted his career to citizen engagement in democracy and to making institutions work for people. Under his leadership, the RBF works in some of the world’s most challenging grantmaking environments.

In 2002, Heintz led the RBF in an initiative with the UN Association to host a backchannel dialogue between senior Americans and Iranians that could not happen through official channels. Those efforts laid the groundwork for the Iran deal. The RBF is also one of few U.S. foundations working in the Balkans, where in 2015 it extended its 10-year commitment to supporting progress on democratic practice, sustainable development, peacebuilding, and the development of local philanthropy.

After the 2016 presidential election, Heintz urged the Board of Trustees to establish the Urgent Opportunities Fund, a two-year special initiative to address pressing concerns in the U.S. around increasingly divisive political rhetoric, discriminatory hurdles to voting and challenges to the free press, among other things.

Building on the Rockefeller family’s long-term engagement in China, in 2017 the Fund joined a small cohort of international organizations to register under China’s 2017 NGO Management Law, allowing it to continue its commitment to fostering sustainable development there. In 2017, Heintz was appointed to the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, a high-level international advisory body for the Chinese national government.

Heintz is known in the sector for having coined the term “acupuncture philanthropy” to describe the Fund’s approach: strategically leveraging the RBF’s modest financial assets and strong reputation in areas of outsized global impact to trigger larger systemic change.

Other winners to be honored in November include recipients of the Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking, the Wilmer Shields Rich Award for Excellence in Communications and the Chapman Prize.  To learn more about the awards or to register to attend the November Awards Ceremony, please visit

Janelle Carter Brevard
Council on Foundations